The democratic experiment all over the world just like ours,is littered with choices; one of them being either to cement and consolidate through the right use of discretion by those who wield the powers of the state or erode gains made through the indiscretion of political actors. Our nation, Ghana sits at the junction of such contemplation.Ours is a nation with deteriorating democratic credentials that is gradually making a complete departure from a reputation that once sat in beautiful ambiance as the go-to country on the subject of a democratic practice.
Ghana’s current leader,President William Akufo-Addo, employed live bullets aimed at killing young people some at aged as low as eighteen (18),to steal the mandate of the people of Techiman South instead of selling a policy message to voters on December 7th, 2020. For Akufo-Addo,the elections of 2020 became a pretext for the use of Military force with deadly consequences for innocent voters.
Over half a dozen people died at various polling stations and collation scented just for deciding to answer the civic call to a universal popular suffrage ; they were forced by a desperate President to exchange their lives for a VOTE. They met their untimely deaths instead of the promise that democracy offers them – that by a simple exercise of a vote, they could secure free primary heath care.
The cruelty of the state has manifested in its total refusal to deliver justice to the fallen .There are accounts of polling station results never accounted for in some constituencies yet the Electoral Commission went ahead to declare the results when the number of people on the roll in those specific constituencies were more than the vote difference between leading candidates. There are communities in Ghana today without a representative in the people’s house of representative – the Parliament of Ghana.
The stories are endless but the pain of it is the quietness of those who stood by for our democracy to degenerate to this extent. What we saw on December 7th 2020 was just the full blown tree of a then budding seedling . It is the decadence of Ghana’s democracy under President Akufo-Addo and the associated loud silence of those should speak out, that has urged President Akufo-Addo on in his wanton quest to hold on to power at the expense of our democracy.
Hurray ! Today I woke up to VOICES ; I am startled that our ‘moral Ghanaian society’ that have taken a detour from the path of truth for the past four years have found their voices suddenly. I have been both amused and dismayed at the reactions to the heartening “Do or Die” comments made by former President John Dramani Mahama. However. I am the least surprised at the duplicitous position of the uncritical media and the unprincipled position of some members of Civil Society on this issue. I have always maintained that; hypocrisy is our bane as a country.
Aside the hyperbolic interpretation being given to the said comments, by the peace-loving John Dramani Mahama, I am actually startled, by the newly-found abhorrence for violence, by people who have lived through, these past five years of President William Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo; a tenure which has been characterized by heightened insecurity, unending state-sponsored thuggery, and political violence leading to the loss of many lives.
Despite the two-facedness in their noise, I am particularly excited that these self-styled voices of conscience, have been awakened from their deep torpidity, especially on violence related conversations. MY BAPTISM OF FIRE In October 2018, I was privileged to be elected as a Deputy National Youth Organizer (DNYO) of the National Democratic Congress (NDC). My election heralded a new dawn of youth activism for the NDC youth front, chiefly, because of the values and virtues I preached during the campaign.
Social Media activists such as Philip Doe, Maxwell Akpabli, Mawuli Fugah, and co nicknamed me the ‘Gentle Radical’ due to my fixation for a forceful, yet, diplomatic approach to resolving issues. Violence was never in my dictionary, and, I never imagined being a victim of political violence – Very naïve on my part. A few weeks after my election, my personal friend and MP for Ayawaso West Wuogon, Hon Emmanuel Kyerenmanten Agyarko died. As expected, and in accordance with the 1992 constitution of the Republic of Ghana, the electoral commission scheduled a date for the by-election.
The AWW by-election was an important project for me in diverse outlooks (More details in my soon to be published memoir). Principally, my family and I, were domiciled in that constituency, and I could confidently assert that, I knew the nuances of the constituency. We needed to deliver the seat for the NDC. We wanted the victory so bad that we sacrificed our all for it, but, on the day of the election, the NPP came with only one strategy – STATE SPONSORED THUGGERY. In a synopsis, VIOLENCE won the seat for the NPP.
The NDC prepared adequately for security, we were prepared to protect the ballot but not prepared to KILL and MAIM innocent Ghanaians for power, that is an AKUFO-ADDO mentality, he doesn’t care about Ghanaians losing their lives for power. He has always blood thirsty for power. I was a victim of the thuggery, received heavy slaps from armed men in national security apparel, for simply insisting the right things be done at the polling station.
That horrific experience was my induction into my new political office. Ghana must applaud the wisdom of the NDC national chairman, Hon Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, and the many elders of our party, who collectively took the decision for the NDC to withdraw from that election, because, on hindsight,a retaliation from the NDC would have led to hundreds of people losing their lives.
They made a decision that saved Ghana from the blood thirsty Akufo-Addo national security team. POST AYAWASO WEST WUOGON AND THE ANTI-VIGALANTE LAW. After the hue and cry about happenings in the AWW by-election, Ghanaians were made to believe the Peace Council and some CSOs, embarked on a mission to disband political vigilante groups.
I daresay, happenings in the 2020 elections simply vindicates those of us, who were never in support of the disbandment of the vigilante groups. Aside not disbanding the numerous lawless pro-NPP vigilante groups, President Akufo-Addo also recruited hoodlums into the security services, and unleash them on Ghanaians, at his discretion. Not even the Emile Short Commission’s recommendation, that the thugs who carried out the Ayawaso West Wuogon massacre, be punished was heeded.
President Akufo-Addo has demonstrated, by words and deeds that, he loves violence, and believes in employing violence, to achieve his political goals. Evidently, the supposed legislation, meant to outlaw the formation, and the financing of political vigilante groups, was only an effort to clip the wings of, the NDC’s internal security arrangements. They succeeded. THE 2020 ELECTIONS.All the processes leading to the 2020 election, were marred by violence, mostly perpetuated by state security officials.
During the voter registration – a young teacher training graduate, was killed by Akufo-Addo’s vigilante boys in Banda. Armed Soldiers maltreated Voltarians in Banda, and along the borders in Ketu South and other border constituencies, among many others. On December 7, we saw the full deployment of unprofessional soldiers and hoodlums in uniform, who killed, maimed and assaulted innocent Ghanaians, to entrench Akufo-Addo’s rule. The kind of violence we saw in the last election, is unprecedented.
The gory scenes from Techiman South, Odododiodo, Savelugu, and other constituencies, remains a blot on the conscience of all these actors. It doesn’t matter how long it takes; we must get justice for the victims of all these state-sponsored killing of innocent Ghanaians. In all of these happenings, peace-loving president Mahama remained resolute and chose the path of Peace and Dialogue.
Admittedly, there were times when some of us in the NDC, felt president Mahama needed to abandon his peaceful nature, for us to also retaliate the thuggery. We cannot allow the NPP to think they have monopoly over intimidation and the use of violence to maintain political power. PRESIDENT MAHAMA’S COMMENTI repeatedly listened to the interview in which President Mahama made the ‘Do or Die’ comments. I must say, as very usual of him, these are not comments made to incite violence, but a charge to inspire us, the youth of the NDC, to protect the ballot at our various polling stations.
These comments were actually orgasmic and timely. We cannot trust an unanimously inconsistent Judiciary, neither can we place our fate as a nation, in the hands of an electoral commission that behaves like a wing of the NPP. President Mahama’s comments cannot be compared to the deadly ‘ALL DIE BE DIE’ philosophy of Prez Akufo Addo. Those crying and screaming from the rooftop, about the ‘Do or Die’ comments are actually, the very hypocrites who see nothing wrong with the gun violence, NDC supporters were subjected to in the last election. THE NEED FOR VIGILANCE You do not need a soothsayer to point out the NPP’s desperate attempts to repeat the 2020 violent episode in 2024.
One would have thought that, with the abysmal performance of the minsters in charge of Security, President Akufo-Addo would have replaced them but he rewarded their massacre of Ghanaians. Apart from his manifest refusal to sanction the perpetrators of the Ayawaso West Wuogon bye-election, the President has never said a word about those who lost their lives in the election. Afterall, all die be die.
Currently, the government is using reprehensible means to recruit unqualified party apparatchiks into the various security agencies. Just last week, a regional Chairman of the NPP, thoughtlessly spoke out the script of the NPP, warning persons who think they are aligned to the NDC not to put in an application to join the security agencies. According to him, they will deny all of them the opportunity.
This reckless statement did not attract condemnation from the rented, and uncritical media and the so-called Civil Society players, who are jumping over themselves to interpret the idiomatic expression; “DO OR DIE”. The lessons from the previous election, and the posturing of this government is clear – they will use violence. Of course,We cannot be the ‘crying babies again’. We have learnt our lessons, albeit, bitterly. In 2024, we will take the destiny of this country into our hands, and protect the ballots at the polling station.
We cannot allow the NPP, get away with the unprecedented thievery and corruption, by using violence again. We must be prepared to meet them squarely. In 2024, it is simply a DO OR DIE, NOTHING ELSE. So, those who are silent about the state sponsored terrorism, should stop stressing about a harmless idiom. However, one thing is certain, whether or not John Mahama whispers it or not, the mass of our people, are seeing through the schemes of this violent government.
You don’t expect us to sit aloof and cry again, we will put up a fight, in the interest of this beautiful country of ours. At the end we are responding to the timeless values of our National Anthem that urges us to “resist the oppressor’s rule”. There is NO THEFT Greater than stealing the mandate of the people and then as described by an academic I know ” using politicians acting through the courts to ratify the thievery” .
The mandate of the people was stolen on December 7th 2020 with guns and related violence and YES ! December 7th 2024 is a “DO or DIE” for our democracy. YOUNG PEOPLE WILL RESIST ANY ATTEMPT TO RIG THE 2024 ELECTIONS AND KILL THEM TOO IN ADDITION. No one will climb into the office of the President of Ghana or Member of Parliament by the notorious activity of violence, guns and the unprofessional behavior of electoral commission officers EC Officers and detailed security officers will be forced to do the Right thing. They will Do ! because It is a ‘DO OR DIE’ for our democracy.
The mass of our country are many and those who wield the guns soaked with a strategy to kill for political power are few. We know what to do ! The NDC stands with the people and President John Mahama has a moral obligation to make sure the choice of voters as expressed on December 7, 2024, is what is declared faithfully. The NDC will and should never allow President Akufo-Addo to get away with a repetition of the 2020 election rigging and violence scheme..
Eric Edem Agbana
(Deputy National Youth Organizer, NDC )